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For Immediate Release

IRS Threatens to Shut Down Medical Cannabis

12 Medical Cannabis States Form National Alliance to Challenge U.S. IRS Tax Code 280E

Oakland, CA – The IRS threatens to turn back the clock on medical cannabis. A national alliance of industry leaders, patients and elected officials are fighting back with a new project aimed at education and policy change. The 280E Reform effort plans to bring an end to the current IRS campaign to close medical cannabis dispensaries.

The IRS campaign of aggressive audits was launched approximately 2 years ago, and uses section 280E of the IRS code to deny dispensaries the ability to deduct legitimate business expenses. Denied expenses include items such as rent, payroll, and all other necessary business expenses. These denials result in astronomical back tax bills for the affected dispensaries, and if not changed threaten to destroy the financial viability of every medical cannabis dispensary in the country – thereby ending safe and affordable access to cannabis for legally qualified patients.

Section 280E was passed by Congress in 1982, long before the passage of medical cannabis laws, and was intended to apply to traffickers of dangerous drugs. Last year, Congressman Pete Stark (D-CA) introduced the Small Business Tax Equity Act (H.R. 1985), which would create an exception to 280E for legal medical marijuana businesses, allowing them to take the full range of business expense deductions on their federal tax returns.

With fear looming that these audits will eventually shut down all legally operating medical cannabis businesses who have been operating according to their state laws, and some paying taxes for years – time is of the essence. Campaign spokesperson Steve DeAngelo outlined the consequences: “Should the IRS campaign be successful; it will throw millions of patients back in to the hands of street dealers; eliminate tens of thousands of well paying jobs, destroy hundreds of millions of dollars of tax revenue; enrich the criminal underground; and endanger the safety of communities in the 17 medical cannabis states.” In response to these dangers, the 280E Reform project is announcing a nationwide campaign to bring awareness to legislators, provide legal and tax counsel for threatened organizations and prepare a grassroots educational effort to enlighten the public on the need to reform 280E.

“We are going to challenge this tax code to make sure that patients all over America have the ability to safely fill their health care needs with safe access from medical cannabis providers who are operating clearly with state laws. This is a public safety issue and a health care right,” says lead tax attorney Henry Wykowski.

An impressive team has been assembled to lead this effort, including: Don Duncan, co-founder of American for Safe Access (ASA) and medical cannabis supporter who has been featured on “60 Minutes,” “Dan Rather Reports” and the L.A. Times; Henry Wykowski, legal tax counsel who successfully defended CHAMP in a similar IRS audit; Troy Dayton, former Senior Development Officer of the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) and current CEO of ArcView Group. Mr. Dayton also co-founded Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP); Amir Daliri, entrepreneur and co-founder of California Cannabis Association; Steve DeAngelo, Executive Director of Harborside Health Center and activist, whose accomplishments include the passage of Proposition 59, the Washington D.C. medical cannabis initiative. A graduate of the University of Maryland (summa cum laude), he is a charter member of Americans for Safe Access, co-created Hemp Tour, and Ecolution Inc, which produced hemp garments and accessories, and is the star of the Discovery Channel series “Weed Wars.”

About the 280E Reform campaign

The 280E Reform Campaign is professionally managed and committed to open communication and transparency. A national conference line is set up each month. This time is used to share with any interested parties the progress of this group. The call is the first Friday of the month at noon Pacific Time and can be accessed by dialing 209-647-1000; password 154639.

Media Relations Contact: Gaynell Rogers 415.298.1114/gaynellrogers@gmail.com